What we fondly know as the Stetson Club was formed by some passionate country music fans Betty and Joe Masters, our founding Life Members. Initially a group of friends and musicians in 1986 who set themselves up in Dominion Road in 1987 before moving to Botha Road in 1989. In 1991 the Club was housed for a short time in Burrett Street but in 1992 the Stetson Club made its home at the Dairy Flat Hall. The rest is history!

The birth of line dancing happened around 1992 and President Fay Heywood saw the potential to bring a new interest to the Club. This caused some concern as the social dancers were worried the Linies would 'take over the Club' but as it turned out everyone got along just fine.

In the early days, we served meals from the kitchen staffed by Club members on a roster. I remember when it was my turn - my specialty is burnt offering (just ask any of my family). For some reason, my name was removed from that roster pretty smartly!

Fay Heywood and Mary Murray gave line dancing lessons in 1993 which were taken over by Robyn Stretton and myself in 1994. Sharon Running joined me as teacher in 1996 and we ran the lessons together for around 5 years. Both Sharon and I were honoured with Life Membership for our efforts. Sharon's continued to run the lessons single handed for close to 20 years. Without the income from the lessons, chances are our Club would have folded years ago and we owe her a debt of gratitude.

Rock 'n' Roll came to the Club in the late 90's and was welcomed with open arms. The split dance floor still works well today, with respect and consideration for fellow dancers being standard fair.

Some amazing contributions to the running of the Club include that of bar manager Steve Kenyon, who ran the bar for over 25 years, an effort that earned him Life Membership. Steve's childhood sweetheart Teresa reclaimed his heart and they now live a relaxed life in Te Aroha (lucky them!). Sue Bradley worked tirelessly in the kitchen for many years, and still does on occasion, for which she also received Life Membership.

The internet happened and the Stetson Club wasn't going to be left behind. Our website was launched in 2007 and is well managed by Thomas and Maryanne Mischler. Our Facebook page was set up by Phil Noble in 2015 and continues to be administered by the Committee.

We've had some truly fabulous Club nights over the years. Did you know that Brendon Ham first performed in 1998 and JamesRay in 2002 - where have the years gone! We've held celebrations for birthdays, wedding anniversaries and reunion gigs. We've had themed nights, car rallies, mid winter Christmas', Sunday BBQ's, had special guests, and dance performances. There's not a lot we haven't done!

I've been a member for close to 25 years, holding Committee roles as Treasurer and Vice President, President for 3 years from 1997 and another stint of 3 years from 2011. My love and passion for the Club is unwavering, I've seen changes over the years with new members discovering our Club and falling in love with it too.

We are so lucky to have the opportunity to hear amazing bands for such a small entry fee. Our format with the evening supper is quaint and endearing, long may that continue. The talent in New Zealand continues to amaze me and the Stetson Club, made up of you the members, is an - I was going to say institution - but it's not it's a family that we can all be proud of ....

Happy Birthday to the Stetson Club and best wishes for the next 30 years!!!

From: Linda Noble
September 2016.